An API For The Interactive JumboTron Floor Display At The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) In New York

I just found one of the coolest API stories I’ve seen in a while over at CHANCE, the quarterly magazine designed for "anyone who has an interest in the analysis of data, informally highlighting sound statistical practice." CHANCE talked with the executive director of The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), Glen Whitney, about their new hands-on, API driven exhibit that the "museum has created a physical and virtual recreational math community to nurture this generation and the next in their mathematical pursuits."

As part of their plans to reach people outside New York City, and encourage them to join the conversation at the museum, they have installed as a JumboTron on the floor, which:

You can walk right onto it and it’s equipped with sensing technology, so it’ll know the location of everyone who’s standing on the floor. We have a variety of exploratory mathematical activities on that floor. We’ll have mazes that have special rules or maybe a lot of turnstiles that trigger changes as you walk through them. It shows the notion that math is about exploring the consequences of simple rules."

At the heart of the interactive mathematics exhibit:

"There will be an API (application programming interface)—a system by which groups can submit their own activity to be displayed on the Math Square floor. We will invite submissions from across the country. And we’ll have a curation process, of course. If one group’s exhibit is selected, we’ll give them the opportunity through live streaming video where the class can see another group in the museum interacting with their creation and get feedback about what these other students experienced as they explored whatever puzzle, problem, or illustration the originators created. We’re looking forward to that as a way of connecting people from around the country."

At the moment where I’m most concerned about the Internet of Things (IoT) API efforts I’m seeing emerge across the landscape, an API project like the MoMath API shows up to make me happy. :-) ;-) Can you image the possibilities here? Not just for interactive, API driven displays on the floor at the National Museum of Mathematics, but interactive mathematics anywhere you can install a visual display, or a network of API driven human interfaces.

I am very curious to see what mathematicians around the world do with the MoMath API project, and better understand how we can use API to make math a much more fun, accessible, and interactive experience, that can be woven into our daily experiences.

P.S. I really, really hope this is good enough to make it into the Hack Education roundup! ;-)